"I walked up to the looking glass and a heptapod on the other side did the same. The image was so real that my skin crawled. I could see the texture of its gray skin, like corduroy ridges arranged in whorls and loops. There was no smell at all from the looking glass, which somehow made the situation stranger" (97).
In this passage, Chiang uses imagery to bring Dr. Banks's first encounter with a heptapod to life. She describes how she feels in this moment, bring the reader into her body: "my skin crawled." She describes in detail what she sees, using sensory, visual language such as "texture," "gray," "corduroy," "ridges," "whorls," and "loops." Dr. Banks does not solely rely on the sense of sight in her description but also focuses on one sense that is, strangely, missing: the image of the heptapod does not give off a smell. As she notes, the lack of smell "somehow made the situation stranger." In this passage, Dr. Banks brings us into what she feels, sees, and (doesn't) smell, which brings the scene to life for her reader.
"When a Heptapod B sentence grew fairy sizable, its visual impact was remarkable. If I wasn't trying to decipher it, the writing looked like fanciful praying mantids drawn in a cursive style, all clinging to each other to form an Eschereque lattice, each slightly different in its stance. And the biggest sentences had an effect similar to that of psychedelic posters: sometimes eye-watering, sometimes hypnotic" (112).
In this passage, Chiang uses descriptive language in order to help the reader visualize Heptapod B. In his sentence describing the "fanciful" images, he compares the language to things that the reader can picture: namely, praying mantids clinging to each other. "Escheresque" means resembling the work of M C Escher). M. C. Escher was a dutch artist who made complex works of art that contained impossible situations or paradoxes.
Chiang also uses imagery by emphasizing the emotional effect of these images, using language such as "impact," "remarkable," "fanciful," "eye-watering," and "hypnotic." This helps the reader visualize not only what the semagrams look like but also how they would feel upon looking at those images, thus increasing the effect of the visual language.
Story of Your Life Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Story of Your Life is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.